Our story

ViaVia Tourism Academy is an autonomous non-profit center of Expertise and Education in Sustainable Tourism Development, operative on four continents.  The Academy grew out of the socially responsible entrepreneurship approach of the worldwide network of Joker/ViaVia Traveler Cafés.

Its aim is the deployment of Sustainable Tourism as tool for economic, social and cultural development, and as source for better understanding and inclusive societies.


In 1981 thirty-six Belgian world travelers, most of them Karavaan tour leaders, put their passion, ideas and money together and founded the tour operator JOKER. From the start they traveled in small groups, active and contact oriented, using local hotels and transport, paying part of the budget directly to local suppliers, and therefore they earned the status of pioneer in sustainable tourism.

Out of this creative environment a new concept of global/local meeting places grew: in 1995 the first VIAVIA TRAVELER CAFE opened in Leuven. In 2012 there are 15 ViaVia Traveler Cafés on 4 continents. Food and drinks, music and art, social projects, tours and courses bring open minded people from different cultures together. Incubators for creativity and entrepreneurship, promoters of community tourism, places for experiential learning, networking and regional clustering, the ViaVia Traveler Cafés unlock their potential to travelers and the local community.

In 2000 the Joker/ViaVia Network received the Belgian bi-annual Award ‘International Partnership for Sustainable Development’ by the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB). Criterion was that the ViaVia/local community partnership was based on the principles of fairness, transparency and mutual cooperation. Meanwhile the ViaVia Traveler Cafés increasingly received requests from local people for advice and training to get a firmer grip on the growing tourism sector. In order to give an adequate answer the Joker/ViaVia Network put their collective knowledge and experience together and founded in 2001 the non-profit organization Living Stone Dialoog. Building on a dynamic worldwide community of sustainable tourism practitioners Living Stone Dialoog evolved to ViaVia Tourism Academy, an innovative center of Expertise and Education in Sustainable Tourism Development.